2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid: Smooth sailing ahead

Posted by Wheels On Edge about 11 months ago
When drivers think of hybrids, they’re likely to imagine a compact sedan or hatchback. Or perhaps a hypercar like the Ferrari LaFerrari. Hybrid SUV’s are nothing new. BMW, Toyota, Kia and Nissan are among those who offer alternative fuel options. But a full sized three-row SUV that’s also a hybrid is a departure from the norm. Acura is hoping to redefine what a hybrid can be with the new MDX Sport Hybrid. Let’s see if they succeeded.

The MDX is a hot seller in North America. With the new Sport Hybrid, the company has managed to improve on what is already an excellent vehicle. The inclusion of hybrid technology in this MDX doesn’t feel like a last minute addition, and it shouldn’t. The drivetrain is a similar setup to that of the company’s new NSX hybrid supercar. With that, one might hope some of the NSX’s performance and handling pedigree would be present in the MDX – and thankfully, it is. Despite its size, the MDX Sport Hybrid handles wonderfully. It is a big vehicle, but it doesn’t feel as large as it is. Thanks to its SH-AWD system, the MDX is surprisingly planted and nimble through curves and corners. If you plant the throttle, you get a serving of the hybrid’s instant torque from the three electric motors.

The MDX is a hot seller in North America

Of course the biggest reason for choosing a hybrid is the potential for better fuel economy and the MDX Hybrid delivers there as well. Acura estimates the MDX Sport Hybrid can get up to 9.0L/100 KM over the 12.6L/100 KM from the non-hybrid model. While Acura recommends premium grade gasoline in the MDX Hybrid, it’s not required. The 3.0-litre V6 engine has no problem getting by on regular or midgrade gas.
 
During normal operation, the MDX Hybrid shifts between its hybrid drivetrain and the gasoline engine. Though it may sound jarring, the shift between both states is mostly seamless. You don’t get any violent or noticeable lurching in the vehicle. The most you hear is a faint ignition sound from the engine starting. At highway speed or in the city, the vehicle is smooth, quiet and comfortable.

The MDX is surprisingly planted and nimble

Inside, the MDX drapes drivers and passengers in luxury and technology. But it’s not always so intuitive. The dual-screen infotainment system was tricky at first to master and compared to systems from other manufacturers (including parent company Honda,) the MDX’s system felt unrefined. But touchscreen aside, the interior of the MDX is a success. Passengers and drivers can enjoy amenities like heated front and second row seats, a fold down media screen for rear passengers, multiple USB inputs, a very deep centre console storage area and a plethora of safety features like automatic emergency braking and lane departure assist. 

The MDX drapes drivers and passengers in luxury and technology

The new MDX (both hybrid and non-hybrid) is one of Acura’s first vehicles to ditch the company’s controversial ‘beak’ grill in favour of a new design the company calls ‘Diamond Pentagon’ which pairs rather nicely with the ‘Jewel Eye’ LED headlights that are intended to mimic natural sunlight. Chrome accents outside and real wood and plush leather inside give the new MDX Sport hybrid a refined luxurious look that’s a sure improvement for its mid-cycle refresh.

The 2017 MDX Sport hybrid

While many hybrids on the market drive like afterthoughts, the MDX Sport Hybrid is an exception. On paper and in practice, it’s undeniably a better vehicle than its non-hybrid counterparts. Acura has managed to improve an already excellent vehicle with a drivetrain inspired by the NSX supercar. From a pricing standpoint, the MDX Hybrid comes in at over $16,000 more than the base model. But even at a starting cost of $69,990, it still comes in cheaper than competitors from Lexus and BMW.

Written by Shane Kalicharan
Tags:
2017 Acura MDX Sport Hybrid, Luxury SUV, Family Vehicle

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